Week Sixteen (19-26 May 2014)
Houston… We have landed.
We stopped in Sam Houston’s namesake for a few days to catch up with members of the Han side of the family and pay homage to the nation’s space program. A day trip to the Johnson Space Center left us fully updated on the state of the planned manned missions to Mars, allowed us to view testing and practice areas affiliated with missions involving the International Space Station, and let us see the rebuilt mission control room of the Apollo era. A worthwhile stop.
The visit left the nine-year-old perplexed over her future career–she noted that she either wants to cut hair for a living or be an astronaut. (We are encouraging her to pursue both visions and look toward establishing the first salon on Mars.)
During this stay with relatives, we had one milestone moment. The eldest was allowed to get behind the wheel of Kermit to move and park the little guy. Her first vehicular command experience. She did well; I am still alive.
Homeschooling On the Road
Car Naming Conventions
Speaking of the little green car, let me digress for a moment to address your queries on said vehicle. Many of you have asked, “Why ‘Kermit’?” How did the thought process unfold?
Well..I have to admit, it was a toss up with “Shrek,” who–not unlike us–embarked on a most excellent journey filled with fanciful new acquaintances and fairy tale creatures. Oscar (as in, The Grouch) was also given weighty consideration, but he never really left his trash can. Attempts to conjure a name also surfaced “Leprachaun.” (Hard to go wrong with Celtic folklore, but something about the rainbows and pot of gold waived us off.)
Green Hornet, Lantern, Arrow, or Goblin were briefly noodled, but Stan Lee would not likely approve. Green Machine (nemesis of the Big Wheel and one of my favorite childhood toys) showed promise at first, but we kept coming back to the little amphibian fellow. Soylent (as in Soylent Green) had unsavory connotations, though–as mentioned in another recent posting–cannibalism has been a topic of discussion within the family of late.
The only other names given any thought was “Green Giant” or, perhaps, his sidekick Sprout, but frozen produce is a tad out of step with our current and planned-future lifestyles. So…there you have it…Kermit.
Where’s the Boy?
Y’all (many of you) have also expressed concern over the lack of pictures of our son, Heir to the Throne, in the last post. Some have even inquired if we abandoned Glass Bane on the roadside somewhere. Not to worry. Simple oversight. He is alive and kickin’ and enjoying life on the road.
Helping the old man prepare dinner in South Carolina
Riding Into the Sunset
After saying our goodbyes in Houston, we saddled up and headed west toward central Texas. Allowing our culinary journey to stay apace of the miles being logged on our trusty land crafts, we made an interesting, quick stop for lunch at a Texas-style BBQ joint located, literally, in the middle of nowhere. In fact, I think the nearest town was “Next to Nowhere.”
Upon entering this fine establishment, we were surprised to be faced with a large group of genuine cowboys scarfing down their mid-day victuals. The ten-gallon hats and dungarees were no surprise, but the sound of heavy boots on a wooden floor and the tinkling of spurs took us back to old Clint Eastwood films. I didn’t see any six-shooters, but these guys were otherwise straight out of Central Casting. One of the kids asked, “Did they just come from a rodeo?”
As we ordered up our food, I was certain that my Birkenstock sandals, longish hair, and bohemian beard would draw comments from this collection of rugged gentlemen. I was just waiting to hear the words “sissy boy,” but they paid us little mind and allowed us to dive into the brisket. (As a precautionary measure, I did remove the black satchel I normally wear slung across my body to keep my iPad from thieving fingers. Even my cosmopolitan East Coast kids refer to this device as my “man purse.”)
After our fine meal, topped off with blackberry cobbler and strong coffee, we worked our way on to Killeen to link up with members of the extended Anglo-Saxon side of the bigger clan. Celebration of the 80th birthday of a maternal aunt drew additional relatives from Virginia and from around Texas for a bit of a Confederate family reunion. Lots of food, sleep, and catching up with folks we had not seen in many a year. Oh…and the second eldest took the standardized test for Advanced Placement World History, arranged well in advance as part of our cross country move, in an effort to gain some free college credit. We should get the results in a few months.
Side excursion with Texas in-law
During this extended stop on our trip, we were able to plunge into more of the fineries of Tex-Mex cuisine–cactus and lengua tacos, menudo, hand wrapped tamales–more BBQ fare, and some excellent cornmeal coated fried catfish with okra. What visit to Texas would be complete without a stop to an establishment sporting a name like “Big Hoss” that offers all-you-can eat BBQ and a BYOB policy (no corkage fee or other restrictions and they supply the glassware, if required); a 1906 piano and a collection of Comanche flint knapped wares added additional character.
Update on the Big Transition
Out on the Big Island, additional survey work and clearing began on our property this week. We began hunting for a short term rental on the island to serve as shelter for the time between when we arrive and when the property is ready for occupation, and talked with the good people at the post office where we will receive our “general collection” mail. (No mailbox or property address where we are headed.) We also began more earnestly pursuing the acquisition of the work vehicle we will need. A visit to the local Jeep dealer, hours online looking for the right vehicle, and calls with Carmax stores around the country put us a little closer to the goal, but no new ride yet.
Unexpected Assertions and Queries
Humorously, as we have discussed our big move with friends, work colleagues, casual acquaintances, family, and strangers around the globe, we have been faced with a number of questions and comments reflecting a wide range of completely unexpected conceptions about Hawaii, homeschooling, and homesteading. I thought you might like to ponder some of these and, given the large number, I’ve decided to parse them out over several posts. I’ll cover homeschooling and homesteading later, but here are some gems regarding the Union’s 50th state:
What kind of money do they use there?
Do you think the kids will want to come back to this country later?
Why don’t you move somewhere in the States?
Are you worried about the snakes? (Note: There are no snakes in Hawaii.)
I’ll bet they have bears where your land is. (Note: No bears either.)
How will you protect yourselves from animals? (Note: No big predators, period.)
You can’t buy land in Hawaii unless you are a native Hawaiian.
Land in Hawaii cannot be that cheap.
They don’t have live volcanoes, right?
Do they have hospitals?
I’ll bet they have a lot of Muslims.
Can you get Chinese food there?
Do they have mechanics and car repair shops?
Ask about “Night Walkers” before buying any property. (Note: A local ghost.)
On this rainy Memorial Day, we are starting to wind down our visit and prepare for the next leg of the journey. To spare ourselves additional hours of driving, we decided to give the Alamo a pass this time (we’ve been before) and, instead, we will now turn a bit north and away from the old stomping grounds of Poncho Villa and Montezuma. With Roswell in our sights, conversation is turning to little green men. Area 51, here we come!